Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A Day Late and a Dollar Short


I just received an email from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. You remember them, they're the outfit represented by Lawrence Keane - senior vice president and general counsel. It was Mr. Keane who was quoted in the New York Times after last week's Wisconsin murders I wrote about below in Birchwood, Wisconsin is Not Hungerford, England. I sent a rather pointed email to Mr. Keane on the day the NYT piece came out. I suppose that's why they responded to me. Well, Gary Mehalik responded. Mr. Keane did not.

It seems the NSSF has an email newsletter, and the most recent one is out. My email came from - well, let me just quote it to you:
Original Message -----
From: Gary Mehalik
To: gunrights@comcast.net
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 9:45 AM
Subject: Wisconsin Massacre

I understand your concern regarding NSSF and hope the clarification provided in our weekly newsletter, Bullet Points (attached below), will address those concerns. Please contact me any time you have questions about firearms design, marketing or recreational/hunting use.

Gary G. Mehalik
Director of Communications
National Shooting Sports Foundation
11 Mile Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
http://www.nssf.org
(203) 426-1320
(203) 426-1245 FAX
And here's the text of the newsletter concerning the Wisconsin murders:
NSSF'S STATEMENT ON HUNTING TRAGEDY
GUN BLAMED FOR CRIMINAL'S ACT . . .
The criminal attack on a group of Wisconsin hunters that left six dead and two others wounded is being exploited by prohibitionists seemingly anxious to use the incident as an excuse to limit the freedoms of responsible American gun owners.The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for companies that make, import and sell firearms and ammunition and many other products used for hunting and in recreational shooting by approximately 40 million Americans.
NSSF supported the recent expiration of the so-called “assault weapon ban” in federal law by explaining to legislators, the media and the public that semi-automatic firearms resembling military-issue guns have long been widely used for target shooting and, where appropriate, for hunting. When the ammunition a gun shoots is suited for the game hunted, military-style semi-automatics are perfectly legal to hunt with under the laws of most states. Pennsylvania, as an exception, does not allow hunting with semi-automatic rifles of any sort, but most other states do. Many also provide for hunting with handguns as well as with shotguns.
The 7.62 X 39mm rifle reportedly involved in this incident shoots a thirty-caliber bullet that performs ballistically similar to the .30-30 deer hunting cartridge commonly used for about a hundred years in lever action guns. Among high-power ammunition, both the .30-30 and the 7.62 X 39 cartridges are capable of reliably taking deer-sized game at moderate distances up to 100-150 yards.

Reporter Steve Wideman in The Post-Crescent newspaper in Appleton, Wisconsin, reports SKS rifles like the one reportedly carried by the alleged murderer are commonly used by deer hunters in that part of the country.
That's it.

Here's what I sent Mr. Mehalik:
Mr. Mehalik:

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid the weekly newsletter did NOT "address my concerns." It made absolutely no mention of the comments of Lawrence Keane, as quoted in the New York Times. There was no admission of error, nor any retraction by Mr. Keane. The CONCERN was that Mr. Keane - "senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation" - shot gun-rights supporters in the foot, and that the anti-gun forces would run with his comments - and they have.

The Brady Campaign was the first I am aware of
to have used Mr. Keane's words against us. Let me quote:
The SKS rifle apparently used by the hunter to kill six other hunters in Wisconsin Sunday wasn't banned under the Federal assault weapons ban that expired September 13, but it should be banned for civilian use. Designed for use in war, even the gun industry admitted yesterday that it's not intended for hunting.
It may, in fact, be the first time the official spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation has admitted that any military-style semiautomatic assault rifle is inappropriate for hunting. Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the group, went further, and even told the New York Times that the SKS isn't a humane weapon for hunting deer. "The reason the SKS is not used by hunters, Mr. Keane said, is that it is designed for combat soldiers and is therefore underpowered for killing an animal like a deer with a single shot, the goal of good hunters," The Times wrote. "'The ethics of hunting are you don't want the animal to suffer needlessly,' Mr. Keane said."
Prior to the expiration of the assault weapons ban, the industry's spokespersons were unified in describing these types of weapons as perfectly normal for use by hunters. It was one of the industry's main arguments for letting the ban expire.
Not mentioning Mr. Keane's involvement in this is not acceptable. Your newsletter blurb is not enough to whitewash over his comments, especially given that his comments aren't even mentioned. A personal retraction or explanation (I'd be FASCINATED to hear an explanation) is - at minimum - what would "address my concerns."

I'm not fond of situations where gun-rights supporters "eat our own" - but Mr. Keane's comments were ridiculous and fundamentally stupid.

Further, that was not a "hunting tragedy." A "hunting tragedy" would have been an accidental death or wounding. This was a deliberate act of multiple murder.
Let's see if THAT draws any additional response.
Technical Assistance Needed

I recently took advantage - if that's the word - of Blogger's new feature (or bug) of placing archived posts on their own web page. There have been problems in the past of calling up an archived post, and then watching it scroll off the screen as the rest of the page loads.

Great, right? Except the archived post shows up in the middle of the freaking page - which in the case of The Smallest Minority means way down younder somewhere. To the uninitiated, it looks like the text screen is blank. I have this problem, too, when the current seven days worth of posts aren't enough to fill the available space. The text is middle-justified vertically.

No bueno.

So I sent a tech support request into Blogger, and they tell me they don't support otherwise simple HTML questions.

So, here's my question: How do I get my posts to show up at the TOP of the text window, instead of centered?
Just Figured That Out, Did You?

The London Sunday Telegraph is still pushing for legislation to allow homeowners the use of unrestricted force against home invaders, though as I noted last week, the campaign seems to be losing steam. This week's entry is as follows:
'The system seems to bend over to help the criminal at the expense of the victim'
By Karyn Miller
(Filed: 28/11/2004)


(And that isn't a victim of a burglary speaking...it's one of the former chief constables who are backing the Telegraph's campaign)

Former chief constables have backed The Telegraph's campaign to give people more rights to protect their homes and families from violent intruders.

The retired police chiefs, who have more than 200 years of service between them, believe that the balance of the law has swung in favour of burglars at the expense of law-abiding householders.

They pledged support for this newspaper's call for legislation giving householders the unqualified right to use force - including deadly force if necessary - against burglars, without facing criminal charges from the police or being sued for compensation. Similar legislation introduced in Oklahoma in 1988 - known as the Make My Day Law - has halved burglaries.

Among those former police chiefs expressing support last week was William Wilson, 61, who was chief constable for Central Scotland at the time of the 1996 Dunblane school shootings, which led to a ban on members of the public owning handguns.
And what a world of good that did.
Mr Wilson, who was chief constable between 1990 and 2000, said: "You can list me as a supporter of your campaign. Anything that can reduce housebreaking has got to be backed I can identify a trend for the law being tougher on the householders than it used to be."
Gee, ya THINK? Yet according to Tim Lambert, it's only the "gullible gunners" who believe this.
Sir Geoffrey Dear, 66, who was the chief constable of the West Midlands between 1985 and 1990, agreed that the current law, allowing "reasonable force" to be used against intruders, could no longer be relied upon. "The Crown Prosecution Service has to a certain extent, in this last quarter century, been looking at reasonable force in far too narrow a way," he said. "They haven't tried to put themselves sensibly and properly into the place of the householder.

"If you chance upon somebody in the dark you have no idea what he has in his hand: nothing, a knife, a screwdriver or even a gun. It all happens in a flash. I don't think you have time to weigh up what is proportionate and what isn't. I say that if you hit him and cause him grave damage, then tough. Your campaign has every chance of success."
Not too familiar with the legislative process, eh? Getting the government to yeild back any of the legitimate use of force will be very difficult.
Peter Joslin, 71, the chief constable for Warwickshire from 1983 until his retirement in 1998, said: "I was regarded as a liberal thinker in my time, but the system seems now to bend over to help the criminal at the expense of the victim. What happens today is frightening. The criminal's rights should not supersede the rights of the individual to protect their property.
But what you're saying is, it does. This is that "chilling effect" I finally got Tim to (grudgingly) admit to.
"If there was an intruder in my home I would go to fairly extreme lengths to defend myself, because it is no good waiting for him to strike you first before you defend yourself. The police advice to lock yourself away in a room and dial 999 is all very well, but life's not like that."

Another former senior policeman backing the campaign was John Stalker, 65, the deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester between 1984 and 1987.

He said: "I believe that a house is something to be defended at all costs by the people who buy it and live in it, because they are entitled to believe that it is a place of safety, sacrosanct from outsiders."
Yes, the Englishman's home was once his castle - but no longer.
George Esson, 62, the chief constable for Dumfries and Galloway between 1989 and 1994, said: "I'm not surprised at the level of support for your campaign. If somebody came into my property in the middle of the night, I would feel it was my inalienable right to defend it." The former officers' backing came in the same week that the campaign was boosted by an informal poll of listeners to Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 programme. His show on Wednesday featured a debate about the campaign between Dominic Lawson, the editor of The Telegraph, and Lord Phillips of Sudbury, a solicitor and Liberal Democrat peer who opposes any change in the law.

More than 5,900 listeners voted afterwards, with more than 97 per cent backing a change in the law and less than two per cent opposing it.Readers can listen to a replay of the show by visiting the BBC's website. It can be accessed at www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/vine.
I'll have to give that a listen, if I ever get any spare time.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Tulsa Police Dept. Gets Spray-Firing Bullet Hoses

Which we know were "specifically developed by the military for laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone".

Why else would the Tulsa PD need them?

Friday, November 26, 2004

Another Interesting Transcript

Last week, Slate published a column by Emily Yoffe, "The Human Guinea Pig," entitled "Guinea, Get Your Gun." I did a piece on it below. It was an excellent column. There was also an associated audio clip that ran on National Public Radio. I just listened to it, figuring it would just be her reading her piece, but no. She was interviewed by an NPR staffer. I though you might be interested in the transcript.

(Announcer)
From time to time on this program, we check in with Slate’s Emily Yoffe. She is better known in some circles by her nickname, “The Human Guinea Pig.” For her column in Slate, Emily does interesting or unusual things many of us might have wondered about, but have never tried.

In the past she has worked as a phone psychic, a street musician, she’s taken a vow of silence, and she was actually crowned Mrs. Washington, D.C., only in part because she was, indeed, the only contestant. Well, she’s back, and here’s a little hint of what Emily’s been up to now:
(Sound of a gunshot)
That is the sound of a gunshot, and earlier, Day to Day’s Alex Chadwick investigated Emily’s new talents.
Chadwick:
Welcome back to Day to Day, Emily! What’s all this about?
Yoffe:
Thank you.
Chadwick:
Have you joined the Marines?
Yoffe, with a chuckle:
I’m an insurgent with a Volvo.
Chadwick, (laughing):
"An insurgent with a Volvo.” Oh, good. You’ve actually taken up shooting guns for your latest Human Guinea Pig activity you’ve decided to master shooting, yes?
Yoffe:
Well, guns are a big issue right now and I'm... I thought, I've gotta understand the rest of the country a little better. And, so I went to see if an absolute gun novice can learn to be a decent shot.
Chadwick:
Alright, we sent a producer along with you for one of your lessons. Here’s a clip of tape. I want you to listen to this, and then explain to us what happens at the firing range when you are getting a shooting lesson.
(tape begins)

Yoffe:
I've got my Smith & Wesson, and this is...
Instructor, scolding:
Ah aah! Point that gun downrange. Keep it pointed downrange at all times. Now you, now you have to maintain control of the grip and keep it pointed down range. Don’t let that muzzle drift at all.
Yoffe:
Right.
Instructor:
All right.
(end of tape)

Chadwick:
Emily, I think what what that instructor’s saying is “don’t point that thing at me.”
Yoffe:
This is probably the first Guinea Pig that had fatal implications. I actually, when I was shooting shotguns, I accidentally put my finger on the trigger and the thing went off and smashed me in the shoulder. Fortunately, I did have it aimed down range.
Chadwick:
So, how did you take to shooting, and are you any good? Could you hit the target?
Yoffe:
I’m darned good. What can I say? Everything has been a disaster in Human Guinea Pig, but I was hitting that thing, at.. My instructor Ricardo Royal put a paper plate out there, and I took his Sig-Sauer P226 9mm with a Crimson Trace laser grip...
Chadwick:
Huh?
Yoffe:
...and “Paper plate, make my day” I was hitting it.
Chadwick:
You sound like you actually know what that thing was. Is that a handgun or a bazooka?
Yoffe:
It’s a semiautomatic pistol.
Chadwick:
Oh.
Yoffe:
I have to admit, before I took this up a couple of weeks ago, I thought shotguns shot bullets? They don't. They shoot shot.
Chadwick:
Hmm.. Ok, we have one more clip of tape here Emily, and I must say it suggests to me that maybe your new fondness for shooting sports is uh, “bleeding” – no pun intended – into other parts of your life. Here, listen.
(tape begins)

Yoffe:
I was taking a yoga class yesterday and during the breathing, I was imagining the front sight of the pistol, so..
Instructor:
Ooooh!
Yoffe:
Yes, just relax into it.
Instructor:
See? Already you ask me “how do I relax?”
(laughs)

(tape ends)

Chadwick, (somewhat incredulous)
Emily, you're saying that shooting and yoga are compatible? That you can sort of visualize shooting while you're in some transcendental state?
Yoffe:
You've gotta get your sights lined up, and so during your breathing I had it... Imagine your target. You're shooting between nine and three o'clock, and it really helped.
Chadwick:
Ok, Emily. You know, you gave up being Mrs. D.C., you passed on being a street musician, you're no longer a phone psychic. Are you actually going to be a shooter? Are you going to get a gun?
Yoffe:
Well, I live in Washington, D.C., which kind of precludes this. Un, unless I'm a criminal, of course. But I am thinking of taking my family out and having us all have a great time blasting at targets. I’ve also become... I see movies now in a different way. I look at people shooting in movies and think “There’s no follow-through there, you're not gonna hit that person. You don’t know what you're doing!"
Chadwick:
Have you noticed anyone packing a Sig-Sauer? Is that, the handgun thing?
Yoffe:
I think they're more into Glocks.
Then they did the polite sign-off thing. That was an enjoyable piece. I think she made Chadwick a bit uncomfortable.

See what a little education can do?

I ran across a great quote tonight by someone who didn't sign their name to it:

Simply put, gun control cannot survive
without an accompanying sea of disinformation.

Truer words...
It's Time to Vote Again

Via Knowledge is Power, and I'll quote SondraK in whole:
You can go here and vote in Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year Award , fan poll. If you let it load...a few pictures will then load in a scroll bar to the left. Second from the bottom is Pat Tillman. I can't think of a more worthy person. He gave up everything for the home team. Go. He deserves it.

Oh. And pass it on, ok?
Tillman is currently in third place behind Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps.

So go vote. And pass it on.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

And to celebrate, here's a photo to: a) warm the cockles of the patriotic American's heart, or b) terrify and offend the GFWs™ out there. A win-win!

BTW, that's a Stinger surface-to-air missile trainer, just in case you're curious.

And check out that grin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Published AGAIN!

Well, only in the local lefty rag, The Tucson Weekly, but that's five-for-six, so far. The issue that came out immediately after the election was amusing, reading the shell-shocked reactions of the staffers. The editor wrote a subdued-but-hopeful, "we'll-be-inclusive" piece that prompted me to write a letter in response. They asked if they could publish it, and it appeared in this week's issue, but they edited it for length (as I expected) and took some of the punch out.

The original editorial was Onward and Upward, and my complete response to it is below. The Weekly's version of it is here. I've highlighted in blue the parts they edited out.
I noted with skeptical hope your promise: "We'll make an effort to understand and reach out to people with differing viewpoints."

Just how differing remains to be seen. I am one of the readers you'd probably consider "Republican and conservative," though my voter registration says Democrat and I'm more of a libertarian (small "L".) I consider the choice between the Left/Democrats and the Right/Republicans to be the difference between castration and a wedgie. Guess how I voted.

Yet, I'm college educated. I'm a professional engineer. I'm an atheist. (Agnostic if you want to be precise.) I'm in favor of gay rights - to a point. I'm in favor of abortion rights - to a point. I'm a pretty rabid proponent of the right to arms, though, and other rights of the individual. That's where I part company with the Left - it seems to be the modern equivalent of the Church. As one writer I read put it, "The thought occurs to me that politically, the Left is the modern Puritans - they want to live life their own way and make sure everyone else does, too." I agree with that thought.

I read the Weekly on occasion essentially to keep an eye on "the opposition" as it were. I've had four of my letters to the Weekly published, and one rejected (for length - I tend to the verbose.) I also read the Weekly because it does criticize government when such criticism is merited - something I see very little of from other media in this town.

I hope you do "fight for truth and justice," but I don't see it happening. No one in the print or electronic media seems interested in truth anymore, just in promoting their own agenda. At least the Weekly's bias is tattooed on its sleeve. And chest, back, and legs.

You wrote: "(M)any people who support equal rights for all and who dislike divisiveness were crushed by the election results. (This is not to say that all those who voted for Bush dislike equal rights and like divisiveness. A lot of good, intelligent people voted for Bush, as well as Proposition 200. But I don't understand how or why. Any insights are welcome.)"

Let me see if I can explain it somewhat. I've lived in Tucson since 1981. In the last twelve years I've seen the political divide get more and more pronounced - and from my side of the aisle, it is the Left that has gotten the most shrill and offensive. It is the Left that has been the most divisive. (Puritans, remember.)

A matter of perspective, perhaps, but the election results should give you pause.


I've only been "politically active" since about 1995, but apparently I'm a charter member of Hillary's Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, a charter member of Al Gore's Digital Brownshirts, and a charter member of Jonathan Klein's Pajamahadeen. (Yes, I am a blogger, since May 2003.) The 2000 election was a major motivator for me. And it wasn't because I thought Bush tried to steal the election.

The most fascinating thing I've noted recently is the declining influence of Big Media. Hell, even Small Media. Instead, I've been enthralled and engaged by Micro Media, and I think that's something you'd better pay attention to. That and Fox News. There's a reason right-wing talk radio and Fox News draw high ratings, and it isn't because the audience is stupid.


Finally, if you really want some insight as to why your side lost (and lost big) I suggest you read something that was posted to the blogosphere on November 5. (No, it isn't mine. I disagree with much the young lady wrote, but her piece is highly illuminating.) It's called How You Could Have Had My Vote. Print it out. Pass it around the office. Perhaps it will generate some useful discussion, instead of the congnitive dissonance that seems to be the general reaction from the shell-shocked Left.

Thank you for your attention.
Not bad. But read this week's guest editorial to see where their "effort to understand and reach out to people with differing viewpoints" is going.

Same ol' same ol'.

Still Gloating


Via Dodd, you've GOT to scroll through some of these, such as my favorites:




And you can sign up to create your own, too.
They're All Obviously Anti-Gay Bigots

The reviews are in for Oliver Stone's epic Alexander. A few days ago Ann Althouse described what she called Stone's "pre-emptive strike" to deflect the blame for the fact that Alexander sucks will do poor box office:
Stone is trying to lay the foundation for blaming moral-values, red-state Americans for his own embarrassing failure.
Steve Sturm notes that Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 did $150 million plus with the inclusive blue-state crowd, so Stone ought to do at least that well with Alexander, or he can't bitch. (Both links via Instapundit.)

Well, here are some of the, er, more colorful quips from RottenTomatoes:
"Oliver Stone doesn't just create trainwrecks. He knocks the train off the rails, sets it on fire, then kills every person onboard. (And takes three hours to do it.)"-- Eric D. Snider

"Represents everything that’s wrong with the big, bloated Hollywood pseudo-epic: Too much with the lavish and not enough connecting with viewers"
--
Jon Popick, PLANET SICK-BOY

"It is such a majestic disaster, that I have a bizarre sort of affection for it, like for a weirdly deformed child, maybe."
--
Eugene Novikov, FILM BLATHER

"Alexander has aspirations of greatness, hoping to be christened an intellectual super-spectacle for brainy moviegoers. The sad truth is that it will probably numb more brain cells than it will stimulate."
--
Philip Wuntch, DALLAS MORNING NEWS

"A horrendously bad movie, a genuine 40-car pile-up of literally epic proportions, a three-way head-on collision of bad writing, bad acting, and bad direction."
--
Nell Minow, MOVIE MOM AT YAHOO! MOVIES
Yup. They're all just bigots.
Go Granny Go!

Damn, this just gives me the warm fuzzies:
Great-Grandmother Being Deployed to Iraq
Associated Press

LAWTON, Okla. - A 72-year-old great-grandmother is preparing for deployment to the war zone in Iraq and will become one of the oldest Department of Defense civilian workers in the war zone.

"I volunteered," said Lena Haddix of Lawton, who has five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. "I wanted to do something for the country, because I was always left behind taking care of the children."

Haddix was a military wife from 1950 until 1979, and has worked at the Fort Sill Post Exchange, or PX, since 1977.

"I've been a supervisor of every department out there," Haddix said. "I guess I'm the flunky."

The PX is more than just a store for soldiers, she said. It's also a boost to morale, giving soldiers stationed overseas a link to the United States and Haddix said that's why she wants to go to Iraq.

"I just see so many of the boys. They're like little kids. They keep telling me, 'I'm going over,' or 'I've just come back,'" she said.

"I would just like to go over and be with them."

And Haddix said others have tried to talk her out of her decision, to no avail.

"I'd already made up my mind I wanted to go. I just wanted to do something for myself and other people instead of working and coming home.

"I'm sure there'll be times that I'll be scared, but I'm not now."

Haddix is now going through much of the same process soldiers go through before deployment, including shots and a thorough medical checkup to make sure she's physically able to do a tour of at least six months.

She will be sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, for one week of training, then be sent to Germany where she will receive her orders on where in Iraq she will be stationed.
That's one tough lady!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Birchwood, Wisconsin is Not Hungerford, England

By now certainly everyone has heard of the shooting of eight people in Wisconsin by a hunter armed with an SKS rifle. Six of the victims are now dead, two are in critical condition.

It took the Violence Policy Center about one day to start dancing in the blood of the slain so that they could rev-up their campaign to renew and strengthen an "Assault Weapon Ban." Remember what the VPC had to say during the original fight to get a ban enacted:
Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an "unsolvable" problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons - just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms - are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons - anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun - can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
Yes, the VPC is truly interested in protecting the police and public. By disarming the public. The law-abiding part, anyway. "Assault weapons" first, "sniper rifles" later, handguns after that, and other weapons when they've accomplished those goals.

The new VPC piece linked above states:
So far in 2004, at least six law enforcement officers have been slain by SKSs.
Obviously this trend is horrible! So they want further SKS importations stopped and they want SKS rifles - and anything else they consider to be an "assault weapon" - banned.

Well, I'm sorry for the officers, their families and loved ones, but how about a little perspective? According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics the number of officers slain in the line of duty - just like general violent crime figures - has been declining for the last decade. See these graphs:

The total number of deaths has been in continuous if not steady decline (not including the 72 officers killed in the World Trade Center attack, September 11, 2001). The supposed scourge of "assault weapons" hasn't caused a sudden upswing in the statistics, either, as the VPC inadvertently illustrated in their paper "Officer Down." This chart shows the number of officers slain with what the VPC labels "assault weapons" - including the SKS, M1 Carbine, and Mini-14 rifles which were excluded from the 1994 AWB - over the period of 1998 through 2001. Compare that to the FBI graphs.

The implication the VPC wants to make is that if those weapons had not been available, those officers would not have died.

But do you really believe that?

Had Chai Soua Vang been armed with a lever-action Marlin chambered for the .44 Magnum cartridge, would he have been any less lethal?

The VPC wants to use this crime to do what the British did in 1988 after a licensed gun owner by the name of Michael Ryan used a legally possessed semi-auto AK-47, an M1 Carbine, and a Beretta 9mm handgun to kill 17 people and wound an additional 15 in Hungerford, Berkshire, England before taking his own life. Parliament, with the outcry of the British public lubricating the wheels of legislation, shoved through the 1988 Firearms (Amendment) Act that banned all semi-automatic centerfire rifles and most semi-auto shotguns. Banned as in "turn them all in."

Bear in mind, however, this followed literally decades of ever-increasingly restrictive laws and regulations on firearm possession. Licensing and registration were already facts of life. "Proof of need" was a prerequisite for acquiring a firearm. Letters of reference and membership in a shooting club, too. According to this site:

For a number of years prior to the Hungerford massacre many police chiefs had pursued a policy of reducing the numbers of certificates to the absolute minimum. The policy was often overt, the Police Review of October 1982 published an article which described this policy:
There is an easily identifiable police attitude towards the possession of guns by members of the public. Every possible difficulty should be put in their way. No documentation can be too rigid, no security requirement too arbitrary, which prevents guns coming into the hands of criminals.
In short, after England had enacted pretty much every law the Brady Center claims is "commonsense," Michael Ryan still killed 17 people and wounded 15 more. So they banned "assault weapons." And every legally owned, legally registered one was turned in.

In 1996 in Dunblane, Scotland, Thomas Hamilton took five legally owned, properly registered handguns to a school and killed 16 children and their teacher, wounding eleven more. So England banned handguns, and every legally owned, legally registered one was turned in.

These "commonsense" laws did have another effect. At the time of the Hungerford massacre there were only 160,000 people in England licensed to own rifles and handguns, and 840,000 licensed to own shotguns (and there must have been significant overlap in the two populations.) This is out of a population of perhaps 45 million, or, at best, an ownership rate of less than 2.5% of the population. The latest statistics show that there are now 118,612 firearm certificates and 561,762 shotgun certificates on issue in England and Wales. That's nearly a one-third reduction in people legally licensed to possess firearms since 1988. Legal ownership has fallen to less than 1.4% of the population. Yet the rate of firearm involved crime there continues to climb.

There haven't been any more mass-murders by firearm, but that's of little comfort to the families of Charlene Ellis, 18, and Latisha Shakespeare, 17 who were gunned down by someone with a submachinegun in Birmingham in January of last year. Two other young women were wounded in that attack.

Fully automatic weapons were banned in England in 1937.

Such public enthusiasm for banning guns does not exist here. At best guess, one quarter of our population owns a firearm. It's a guess because the overwhelming majority of us do not have to register our firearms. The VPC constantly touts that the majority of Americans support an "assault weapons ban," but that the eeeevil NRA has a stranglehold on the Congress. Both are possibly true, but it's also certain that the majority of the public - even the gun-owning public - does not understand the implications of a ban, while the NRA certainly does.

For example, from today's New York Times:
"This is not a gun you go deer hunting with," said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade association.

The reason the SKS is not used by hunters, Mr. Keane said, is that it is designed for combat soldiers and is therefore underpowered for killing an animal like a deer with a single shot, the goal of good hunters.

"The ethics of hunting are you don't want the animal to suffer needlessly," Mr. Keane said. Mr. Keane said he suspected that the man accused of the Wisconsin killings was not a trained hunter, since with the SKS he was carrying, he would have had to shoot a deer several times to kill it.
Surely Mr. Keane should know that the 7.62x39 Russian cartridge the SKS fires is approximately equal in power to the venerable .30-30 Winchester - a cartridge possibly responsible for the harvesting of more deer in the United States than any other? Surely Mr. Keane should know that the pointed bullet profile of the 7.62x39 round yeilds better downrange ballistics than the flat-pointed bullets used in the .30-30? Surely Mr. Keane should know that the average SKS rifle is more than capable of holding "minute of deer" accuracy out to 100 yards or more? And surely Mr. Keane should know that the SKS rifle is inexpensive and highly reliable - both of significant interest to new hunters?

The SKS is a perfectly adequate (and popular) deer rifle, yet a member of a group that supposedly supports gun rights plays directly into the hands of those interested in banning firearms.

We are often our own worst enemy.

But Birchwood is not Hungerford, and the U.S. is not England.

And we will not blame the gun for the action of the shooter, no matter how much the VPC et al. would like to stampede us into doing that.

UPDATE, 11/24: As I predicted, the Brady Center ran with Lawrence Keane's quote from the New York Times in a press release yesterday:
The SKS rifle apparently used by the hunter to kill six other hunters in Wisconsin Sunday wasn't banned under the Federal assault weapons ban that expired September 13, but it should be banned for civilian use. Designed for use in war, even the gun industry admitted yesterday that it's not intended for hunting.

It may, in fact, be the first time the official spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation has admitted that any military-style semiautomatic assault rifle is inappropriate for hunting. Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the group, went further, and even told the New York Times that the SKS isn't a humane weapon for hunting deer. "The reason the SKS is not used by hunters, Mr. Keane said, is that it is designed for combat soldiers and is therefore underpowered for killing an animal like a deer with a single shot, the goal of good hunters," The Times wrote. "'The ethics of hunting are you don't want the animal to suffer needlessly,' Mr. Keane said.

"Prior to the expiration of the assault weapons ban, the industry's spokespersons were unified in describing these types of weapons as perfectly normal for use by hunters. It was one of the industry's main arguments for letting the ban expire.

Since the ban's expiration, high-profile crimes involving assault weapons have already become more commonplace. Plano, Texas police are searching for members of a bank robbery gang that have opened fire on police with AK-47s, and that same weapon is believed to be the weapon of choice of a killer or killers who have shot eight people in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Thank you so much, Mr. Keane for being an ignorant idiot.

FURTHER UPDATE: The Wisconsin State Journal, in an unsigned editorial (natch) regurgitates the Brady/VPC talking points in a call to (natch) renew the AWB and make it stricter. Now there's a shocker. But get this error:
Americans already own an estimated 100 million guns of all types.
Err, no. About 260 million of all types. About 100 million handguns. Sheesh. I thought newspapers had editors?

I've Never Said This Before: Y'all Need to See This Commercial

This is something I find interesting on a couple of different levels. For one, I'm a Mustang fan. For another, only the internet allows an advertiser to produce a five minute long commercial, and have people come find it. BMW did it with a series of short films by "name" directors. Now Ford has produced a combination Mustang ad and tribute to our troops.

Go watch "Homecoming."

Have a hanky handy.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Variations on a Theme

Via Kim comes this outstanding post from Ally Eskin of Who Moved My Truth?: Gun Ownership. Here's a taste:
I grew up hating guns and being very fearful of them. I was raised to fear them, as for the first part of my life, I was told to fear them, and for the second part of my life, I had a parent who kept a firearm irresponsibly. So I was definitely not one for the NRA member recruitment team. However, I married a man who kept several firearms, and before long, I learned to shoot handguns. I'm not a great shot, but I'm well within the 9" paper plate requirement, and some days, I'm on-target and impressing myself. When I bought my first gun, a Smith & Wesson 38 Special snub with a hidden hammer, I took a step that frightened me. I was holding in my hands a weapon that could kill someone. It was a heady, terrifying notion. I realized I did not trust myself. What if I got angry? What if I went insane? What if I was sleep-walking? Hey, I know it sounds crazy....but I was shocked by the implications of owning a firearm. It took several years, but here is what gun-ownership has taught me: self-ownership.

--

I learned something incredibly valuable about myself....something no one could teach me or instill in me. I am a trustworthy individual. I can now handle my guns with complete comfort because I know who I am and what I am capable of.
This is a recurring theme on this site, such as in this letter to Kim that I've linked to a couple of times before, or Eric S. Raymond's essay that writer quoted, Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun. I've discussed the tendency of the gun-phobes to fear their own self-control in my essay, Trust and in other places. Bill Whittle wrote most eloquently on the topic in his inaugural essay Freedom.

It all boils down to TRUST, and in order to trust in your fellow citizens, you must first trust yourself. You must know, in your soul, that you are trustworthy. You must have self-ownership. You must consider yourself sovereign, a member of equal standing in your society, not a subject of it. You must believe yourself worthy of your rights as a human being, and you must believe that your fellow citizens are also worthy until they individually prove themselves otherwise.

Else, to paraphrase Bill Whittle, the end result of such thinking is people on watchtowers machine-gunning starving prisoners.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I Like a Woman with ATTITUDE!

Check out Risawn over at Incoherant Ramblings. She's done a self-portrait, and then done a bit of photoshopping on it. Here's my personal favorite:

Here's her explanation of that particular poster:
Now that I've gotten a few comments from people about my "not sorry" picture with me toting a badass M203, I thought I would explain a little bit more in detail what I'm not sorry about.

I'm not sorry that George W. Bush was reelected President.
I'm not sorry for being American.
I'm not sorry for being a Soldier.
I'm not sorry for the opportunity to serve my country.
I'm not sorry for democracy in action.
I'm not sorry for Freedom, and mostly the freedom to express myself.

I would not be sorry if John Kerry were elected president.
I would still not be sorry of being an American if he was.

My photo is not directed at liberals or the anti-Bushites. The suppression of their voice is the suppression of the thing I love. My picture is a representation of myself and that of being a soldier. A soldier is a person whose duty is to defend their country, and defending the homeland means bearing arms against enemies of this nation. I see my photo as beind directed at Terrorists. George Bush has made a directive in the war on terror. I am not sorry that I get to help continue it.

If you don't notice, my picture speaks for myself and myself only. I'm not speaking for the 51% of american voters who chose to vote for Bush. Their reasons are not the same as mine. I'm not speaking against the 48% of voters who chose to vote for Kerry. They had the freedom to vote the way they did. I do not ever wish for that to go away. My words are simple, blunt, and to the point.

I am not Sorry.

Read and interpret it as you may.
Attagirl!

Apparently after running her own blog for three years, she's suddenly been "discovered" by the rest of us.

OK, Instapundit, but that means "the rest of us," since we tend to slavishly follow the Puppyblender™.

Anyway, she's an Army reservist and she's shipping out for Kosovo shortly. Giver her a read. Drop her a note of thanks and well-wishing.
The Phrase You're Looking for is "Ignorant Elitist Hypocrite"

Though it isn't as descriptive as I'd like. Doesn't roll trippingly off the tongue, either.

Jed Baer has fisked just such an ignorant elitist hypocrite over at Freedom Sight in his piece Gun Rights in Name Only.

Sometimes gun owners are our own worst enemies.

Range Report: M1 Garand


I took the Garand out to the AR15.com shoot at the Casa Grande public range Saturday. I only brought 40 rounds for it (I'd purchased two boxes of Korean Milsurp, not three). It fed and functioned flawlessly, and I was able to score repeated hits on one of my 9x11" swingers at 100 yards, offhand. Now I need to load some ammo and shoot it on paper to see what kind of accuracy it can actually give me, but it works, and works well.

Oh, if you get a chance to shoot an FN P90 submachine gun? DO IT! Damn, that's fun!

Expensive. But fun.
Well, THIS is Interesting...

From Packing.org:
Posted on Friday, November 19, 2004 @ 01:53 PM by madmax7774

I am obviously not a lawyer, and admittedly, I am not very well versed on laws and politics, but I don't uderstand how states/municpalities like NY or NY city or D.C. can get away with passing laws that clearly violate the 2A of the constitution??? Why doesn't the supreme Court step up and strike these laws down as uncostitiutional? Is it as simple as no one has filed a lawsuit yet to adress them? You'd think that watchdog groups like the ACLU would jump all over this stuff, after all their sole purpose in life seems to be suing for the purposes of striking down unconstitutional laws. Or is it that the ACLU and groups like it are only interested in killing laws that catch their fancy. I just don't get it. Maybe we need to pro 2A group that focuses solely on the 2A. Oh wait, isn't that what the NRA is supposed to be doing?

--

Thoughts:
Added by ComputerUser on Friday, November 19, 2004 @ 03:11 PM

1. ACLU refuses to take an "official" position on 2A. I think this is a tremendous failing on the part of such a powerful constitutional watchdog group.
Um, WRONG. But that's not the interesting part. This is:
2. On Tuesday 16 November I attended an event with Justice Scalia where the question of 2A interpretation came up. He declined to respond to the question posed to him directly on the grounds that there is a good chance that related cases will be before him very soon in light of the split between the circuits (5th and 9th, I believe) in regards 2A applying in fact to individuals or instead to a "national guard"/collective non-Federal entities only. Needless to say, as an Originalisst he is very much on our side with respect to laws interfering with people being able to arm themselves in the sense of the Militia as understood 1791. It will be interesting to see if these cases do show up in front of SCOTUS.
What "related cases" is he referring to? Seegars v. Ashcroft? What else? Bear in mind that Scalia is a realist when it comes to SCOTUS. See This is NOT What I Wanted to Read for more on that.

"When You Find Out, You Call Me Back" - An Update on Brian Borgelt


Here's a really interesting article on Brian Borgelt, former owner of Tacoma's Bull's Eye Shooter Supply from which the Bushmaster XM-15 used by Muhammed and Malvo in the D.C. Sniper shootings was stolen. I've ragged on Borgelt a bit myself, and I have to blame some of that on the "Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect" - the tendency to believe the news media even when you know they get it wrong almost every time. But hey, they're pretty much all we have to work with, so what can you do?

It's a long piece, so I'm not going to copy the whole thing, but here's a few highlights:
Brian Borgelt never killed anyone.

He sold guns for more than a decade, but he rarely carries one. He was a soldier who taught marksmanship to thousands of other soldiers, but he’s never fired a gun at another human being.

In summer 2002, a boy and a man robbed him – took a rifle from the store he owned, and killed at least 10 people they didn’t know, just because they could. Because of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the Beltway snipers, Borgelt, 40, is a man without a career – a casualty of America’s endless culture war over firearms.

--

In 2003, families of the sniper victims sued Borgelt and Bushmaster Firearms, manufacturer of the weapon used in the killings. In September of this year, Borgelt agreed to a $2 million settlement.

After the settlement hit the news, a few friends in the gun industry called and asked why he’d caved in to the anti-gun lobby. The question set him seething.

“Where have you been?” he replied. “I’ve been the damn Alamo here for two years!”
How many guns from his store remain unaccounted for following multiple audits by federal firearms officials?

Borgelt says he can’t be sure. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have all his records.

The numbers jumped around wildly during the frenzy of media coverage that followed the sniper arrests in October 2002. The rumors said 340 guns were missing, then 262, then 238, then 160 and finally 78 – a number cited by the ATF.

He thinks the real number has dropped, down to two dozen or so. Stray records still pop up, and the ATF continues to trace them. An ATF spokeswoman could not provide an exact figure to The News Tribune, and said it would require consulting databases in Washington, D.C.

Borgelt believes some of the guns will never turn up. There were thefts – some by employees. People he hired to handle sales records made mistakes. He mentions that, and even as he says it, senses the rejoinder.

"I’ve been accused from the beginning of this thing of blaming other people,” he says. “This was my company, my license. I take responsibility – but one man can’t do it all. Was there something wrong with my leadership? Perhaps. I can what-if that to death.”

The day after the lawsuit settlement, he got a call from a reporter in the Czech Republic. The reporter couldn’t understand why, in America, Borgelt and the gun manufacturer would pay for the actions of other people.

"When you find out, you call me back,” Borgelt said.

--

“Did I sell guns out of here without paperwork?” he asks, his voice rising. “For personal gain? No. You bring one SOB in here who can prove that. However, did I have employees stealing guns out of here? Yes. Was I getting ripped off by people I trusted and paid in here? You bet I was.”

--

More news stories appeared, noting a domestic violence restraining order on Muhammad’s record should have prevented him from buying a gun, and that Malvo was an illegal immigrant. Laws should have stopped a sale. The shop had a history of spotty inspections and missing records. Was the rifle stolen, or sold illegally by a renegade employee?

The question nagged Borgelt. It still nags him two years later – and he knows what skeptics think: Stolen? Come on – how do you walk out of a gun shop carrying a 3-foot displayed accessorized semi-automatic rifle without anyone noticing?

“How does someone walk in and steal ‘The Scream’?” he asks, citing the recent theft of a famous painting from a European museum. “Tell me one thing in this town that can’t be stolen.”

The shop was a busy place – between 1997 and 2002, Bull’s Eye sold roughly 25,000 guns.

--

His name and store began to show up in other stories, in a repeated refrain of guilt by association.

One story pointed out that Buford Furrow, a white supremacist from Olympia who killed a postal worker and wounded five people at a Jewish community center in California in 1999, bought a gun from Bull’s Eye. The sale was legal, and Furrow didn’t used the gun to commit his crime, but there it was.

Another story reported that one of the men involved in the 1998 Trang Dai killings in East Tacoma bought a gun from Bull’s Eye. The sale was legal; the gun hadn’t been used in the killings. But there was that link again: bad guy plus Brian Borgelt.

In March 2003, a New York architectural magazine published a story about Tacoma’s downtown renaissance, and mentioned someone taking a potshot at the city’s Bridge of Glass. The article called the shooter a “sniper,” and suggested he might have been firing from around “the nearby Bull’s Eye gun shop, source of the weapon used in the D.C. sniper killings,” though no evidence supported the assertion.
Borgelt became a national footnote, his name forever tied to a pair of spree killers he never knew – the man who armed the snipers.

--

In April 2003, The Brady Center – a national gun-control group that financed the lawsuit against Borgelt and Bushmaster – issued a news release describing him in capital letters as “One of the Worst Gun Dealers in America.”

On cluttered bulletin boards near Borgelt’s second-floor office above Bull’s Eye, he sometimes posts articles on gun rights issues – pointed editorials, stories of self-defense. Scattered among them are political cartoons. One shows a judge with a TV camera for a head, staring down at a hapless defendant.

"You’ve been found guilty by the media,” camera-head says. “How do you plead?”

--

Borgelt is a strong Second Amendment supporter – an advocate of gun rights, a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association. Part of him figured that powerful lobby and other gun-rights advocates would rush to his aid – if not with help for his legal fees, at least with a little moral support in the public glare.

"Hell, yes,” he says. “I thought we had a fraternity that would protect each other.”

It didn’t happen. For once, the gun lobby was gun-shy.

Some of its leaders say Borgelt never asked for help, though his lawyer, Frush, bluntly says, “The NRA wouldn’t touch us.”

Others say news reports detailing Borgelt’s sloppy record-keeping scared his natural defenders away: He gave the anti-gun crowd too much ammo.
Guilty as charged. Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.
(Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms) remembers talking to gun-rights advocates who thought Borgelt was getting a raw deal for being robbed, but feared another black eye for the gun industry. He says he heard similar comments from acquaintances at the ATF, who talked to him off the record.

“It made them look bad,” he says. “It made ATF look bad – ATF was under a lot of pressure, too.”

--

Inspectors looking for a grand total of missing weapons combined the results of four inspections over a five-year span, without mentioning that some were later accounted for, and that inspection results hopscotched from bad to good, bad to good.

A 1997 ATF audit praised Borgelt’s record-keeping. A 2000 audit criticized it, prompting a rare “warning conference.” A 2001 audit found no “repeat violations,” and noted improvements in the shop’s record-keeping.

(Borgelt’s attorney, Jim) Frush showed that some violations reflected an order by the ATF to use a new recording system that agency officials later admitted was the wrong method. That, he said, contributed to violations found in the 2002 audit, conducted after the sniper arrests.

--

The defense was a partial success. The ATF revoked Borgelt’s license for record-keeping violations. But last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that it would not pursue criminal charges on gun violations.

“The inspections identifying the possibility that guns were stolen or missing are very troubling to the government,” U.S. Attorney John McKay said in a news release. “But after careful review of ATF records going back to 1997, we have concluded Borgelt’s conduct did not reach the standard necessary for a successful criminal prosecution.”

--

(Borgelt) remembers catching shoplifters in the store he used to own and turning them over to police, only to watch the thieves walk away from prosecution.

It nettles him that he faces symbolic blame for the homicidal actions of two men who robbed him while another man, Earl Lee Dancy, so far goes unpunished.

In court testimony, Dancy, a Tacoma resident, admitted buying one gun for Muhammad illegally and lending him another that was used to kill Keenya Cook, a 21-year-old Tacoma woman, in February 2002 – eight months before the sniper shootings began.

Dancy did a straw-purchase of a Remington 700 .308 caliber rifle - one that would have almost certainly resulted in the deaths of every victim of the attacks. I wrote about that back in January. And he hasn't been convicted or sentenced for this yet?

Anyway, read the whole thing. Especially the conclusion.

My sincerest apologies, Mr. Borgelt. And my best wishes for your future.
Another Example of How "Gun Control" Laws are Abused

From the Perth, Australia Sunday Times:
PERTH SAILOR'S GUN ARREST
By NICK TAYLOR and CINDY WOCKNER in Bali
November 21, 2004

A RICH, internationally acclaimed Perth yachtsman faces the prospect of a long jail term after weapons were found on his boat in Bali.

Chris Packer, who was on an around-the-world voyage with his girlfriend Gianna Botto, 42, and four other crew, was detained by Indonesian police as he sailed from the holiday island.

Indonesian police spokesman Colonel Anthonius Reniban said yesterday that Mr Packer would be charged with illegally possessing firearms.

The offence carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in jail.

Four other sailors on the boat – a decommissioned freighter called Lissa – were also detained but have since been released from custody.

Officers acting on a tip-off seized four rifles, a pistol and more than 2000 rounds of ammunition from the boat. The weapons were undeclared and unlicensed, Col. Reniban said.

"He has carried weapons into Indonesian territory," said Col. Reniban. "He will be taken to court."
He didn't do anything with the weapons - including declare them - he just possessed them. But that's illegal.
He said that Mr Packer, who was born in South Africa, would be charged with violating Indonesia's 1951 Emergency Law on possessing weapons.
Right. An EMERGENCY law, enacted in 1951. Is the "emergency" still ongoing?
But Mr Packer's Peppermint Grove family says the weapons were for protection in notorious, pirate-infested waters.

Mr Packer had been attacked twice by pirates in Peru and had used a weapon to defend his ship.

The family believes he made a dangerous error of judgment by not declaring the weapons when he landed in Indonesia, concerned they would not be returned when he sailed.
Whatever would make him worry about something like that? Why would a government want to confiscate weapons? [/sarcasm mode]
It is believed police were tipped off by a disgruntled former crewman.

Mr Packer, 52, was questioned under Indonesia's anti-weapons law No. 12, which carries 20 years or life imprisonment for those convicted of owning weapons without proper authority for "negative purposes".
Will they have to prove "negative purposes"? Or will the onus be on Mr. Packer to prove the opposite?
The family has employed a legal team in Indonesia. Willy Packer, one of Mr Packer's three brothers, is holidaying in Bali and will be by his side.
Here's the only bright spot for Mr. Packer: He's rich. He can afford the best in legal defense, and he may be able to pay his way out of a jail term. For Joe and Jane Average, however...
Mr Packer's oldest brother Ron, a former commodore of the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, told The Sunday Times yesterday: "When he arrived in Indonesian waters he was concerned that if he declared his weapons and handed them to the authorities, he might never see them again. The waters he was sailing through are notorious for pirates.

"After the Peru attacks he has always said that he would be dead had he not been armed. This is a storm in a teacup. The whole thing is getting out of hand.

"He had even cleared customs and was a couple of miles out to sea when police stopped him. That's what's so crazy about it. What are they trying to prove?"
Good question.
Mr Packer was making his world cruise on a 55m vessel.

He was a great friend of world yachting personality and New Zealand America's Cup hero Sir Peter Blake, who was murdered by pirates on the Amazon River in 2001.

"He suffered badly over that. It hit him really hard," his brother Ron said.

"That is another reason that he carried firearms. Everyone does when you sail in those waters."
Then they ought not land in Indonesia.
The family said two of his brother's weapons were used for clay-pigeon shooting off the boat.

Mr Packer's father, retired ear specialist Dr Peter Packer, received a phone call from his son at 6pm on Friday.

"He rang to say they were leaving Bali when police boats came out and stopped them," he said. "It seems he did not declare the guns."

Mr Packer's boat was impounded in Bali's Benoa harbour after a search revealed four rifles, including a Ruger mini and two Mausers, an FN pistol and 2475 bullets, including 0.357
(sic) magnum cartridges and magazines.

Mr Packer was held overnight for questioning in the jail at Benoa harbour and under police guard.

His Italian-born Peruvian girlfriend, and New Zealander Kenneth Brewster, 47, also were brought in for questioning. Another New Zealander Trevor Morris, Indonesian Budi Rachman, 29, and Spaniard Alvaro Roca, 23, were released.

Early yesterday police began a search of the 50-year-old restored Baltic trader flying a Cook Islands flag.

Police said it had been in Bali waters near Serangan Island for about a month. It was stopped 4km out to sea about 4pm on Friday after a tip-off from what police said was "a confidential source".

Three police speedboats chased it and ordered Mr Packer to stop and let them board.

One police source said Mr Packer was then informed: "I have information that you have weapons on board" and he replied: "There are no weapons here."

Police then boarded and searched the hold area, finding the weapons and ammunition in gun containers.

Col. Reniban said Mr Packer told investigators the weapons were for self-defence and hunting.

He said Mr Packer did not have appropriate Indonesian police licences to carry them and police were concerned to find ammunition but not the revolver it was designed for.

Dozens of officers with metal detectors and sniffer dogs searched the Lissa yesterday.

Mr Packer, looking sullen and dishevelled, accompanied police during the search yesterday, photographing onlookers with a small digital camera.

Mr Packer, a former property dealer and deer farmer in New Zealand, also had substantial interests in a mast-making company that was sold for about $20 million four years ago.

He bought the Lissa soon after the sale and it has been his home ever since. He sailed from Fremantle in May after a refit, stopping in Darwin to collect the registered firearms.

He was planning to sail to Phuket to take part in the Kings Cup regatta after leaving Bali.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: "We understand that the man has legal representation and our cultural officials have made contact with his lawyer to offer assistance. We are hoping the matter can be resolved quickly."

Crew member Trevor Morris, a New Zealander who has lived in Australia for many years, said yesterday that Mr Packer had declared and surrendered the weapons in New Caledonia and had a receipt for them.

Mr Morris said the weapons had been declared in Australia but it is understood they had not been declared in Indonesia.

Mr Morris said it appeared police had inside information, possibly from a Scottish backpacker couple who had left the boat on bad terms about seven or eight weeks ago.
I wonder, were the Scots gunphobes?

Good luck, Mr. Packer. You're going to need it.
Running Out of Steam?

"I fear that the Sunday Telegraph’s campaign is running out of steam after only a few editions." That's what Lurch at the English blog Gun Culture thinks, and I think he may be right.

Today's London Sunday Telegraph piece in their campaign to enact a "Make My Day" anti-burglar law is this sad article:
Burglar murders grandmother
By Karyn Miller
(Filed: 21/11/2004)


Police are investigating the murder of an 85-year-old grandmother, found dead after dialling 999 to report a burglar at her home.

Police found her collapsed at the bungalow in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, where she lived alone. Attempts to revive her failed.

Police believe that her killer got in through the back of the bungalow and that her handbag may have been stolen.

Det Chief Insp Nick Baker, the senior investigating officer, issued an urgent appeal for information on behalf of the Staffordshire force and expressed his dismay at the pensioner's death.

"This woman was a vulnerable lady who has been murdered as a result of her being considered an easy target," he said. "This is now a murder investigation and we would like to hear from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious around the bungalows on Friday night."

The victim was a widow and the mother of three adult daughters. Yesterday, frantic attempts were being made to trace them.

A post-mortem examination has been carried out, but the cause of death has yet to be disclosed. The woman had a heart condition, but it is not known if this was a contributing factor.

A team of 20 officers has been assigned to the case and yesterday carried out house-to-house inquiries.

Longton, one of Stoke's famous "six towns", is regarded as an up-and-coming area, popular with young families and the elderly.

In recent weeks, The Sunday Telegraph's Right to Fight Back campaign has highlighted the cases of other men and women who have been viciously attacked in their homes and has called for a change in the law to give householders greater rights to defend themselves against intruders.
Now here's a question I'd like everyone to sit and think about: How is an 85 year-old woman - with a heart condition - going to effectively defend herself from one or more burglars in a society that does not allow its citizens defensive firearms, nor even pepper spray? What weapon is allowed to her that will keep assailants out of contact distance? Hmmm?

That Telegraph piece also links to one from last week that I missed:
Community wardens are 'the future of crime fighting'
By David Harrison
(Filed: 14/11/2004)


To her supporters, Liz Lovatt is the future - one of the first of what will eventually be 20,000 crimefighters who will transform our streets and relieve the pressure on over-stretched police forces. To her detractors, she is another example of policing on the cheap, a toothless non-officer who patrols a Kent village by day while the yobs rule the streets by night.
Guess which side I sit on?
Either way, Mrs Lovatt, 33, a community warden, is the only visible agent of law and order in Wye, near Ashford - a village of 2,000 people which, like so many others across Britain, is in the grip of hooligans and vandals after dark.

Mrs Lovatt is in no doubt of her contribution to David Blunkett's war on anti-social behaviour. Taking a break from her patrol, she recounts
her greatest success to date:
"I caught a 12-year-old boy ripping flowers from a window box and he ended up so ashamed of what he had done that he re-planted the flowers himself.
Be still, my beating heart. How about the kid gets a good whipping after his gardening is complete?

What the hell happened to punishment?
"I don't want to blow my own trumpet, but I got a vote of thanks from the parish council for that one." This style of law enforcement practised by Mrs Lovatt is the Government's answer to what many perceive as rising lawlessness in rural areas. There are 1,000 community wardens and 4,000 police-funded community support officers in Britain. Last week, the Home Office announced plans to increase those numbers to a total of 20,000 within four years.
On the surface this appears to be a good idea, but why does it remind me of the Soviet stukachi - the people who lived in apartment buildings and reported to the Party on the actions of other residents?
Mr Blunkett, the Home Secretary, describes these green-anoraked crusaders as the "new bobbies on the beat", heralding the return of Dixon of Dock Green-style policing. His optimism is shared by Kent county council which trained Mrs Lovatt - a management with economics graduate - for eight weeks. But look beyond Mrs Lovatt's undoubted dedication to her job and to the people of Wye and, critics of the community officer scheme say, you will find a tale of penny-pinching and gestures: Mrs Lovatt is paid £16,000 a year - a new police recruit can expect a salary of £4,000 more than that; she has no greater power of arrest than an ordinary citizen; she never works later than 10pm; and she lives 25 miles away from Wye - "to protect my family" from reprisals.
OH, even better! She's not even a member of the community she's "policing"! And the reason? TO PROTECT HER FAMILY FROM THE PEOPLE SHE INTERDICTS. That ought to give you the warm fuzzies!
Mr Blunkett pledged last month to give wardens powers to issue on-the-spot fines for anti-social behaviour including litter-dropping, graffiti and excessive noise at night.
Err... Does she get to collect those on-the-spot fines? Even if not, will this become a major source of revenue for the State? Because I can see the path to major abuses of that power. And she knocks off at 10 PM. What about "excessive noise" after then?
But for now, a typical day for Mrs Lovatt consists of giving villagers tips on crime prevention - anything from warnings about bogus doorstep salesmen to reminders to cancel the milk and papers when going on holiday.
And possible littering fines for those who let newspapers collect on their doorstep if they don't, for example? New York Mayor Bloomberg tried something like that not too long back.
She does look out for graffiti but merely arranges for it to be erased. As a former firefighter, she checks burglar and smoke alarms. She also gives occasional talks - a recent one was on "stranger-danger" at a primary school - and attends Neighbourhood Watch meetings.

The rest of her time is spent patrolling the village, "keeping an eye on things and just being a visible presence like the old-fashioned bobbies", she says.

What Mrs Lovatt and all the country's other wardens do not do, however, is tackle crime. "That's not my job," she explains.

"I'm more of a liaison officer. I'm the eyes and ears of the village, the link between the community and the police. A big part of my job is to reduce people's fear of crime."
Not actually reduce crime, merely the fear of it.
Many villagers are not impressed.
Understandably so.
There may not be many serious crimes but, they say, there are drugs, burglaries, vandalism and violence - even a rape not so long ago. Mrs Lovatt is very pleasant, they say, but they want "proper" police officers.

Peter Lee, 74, who has lived in the village for 14 years, says: "It's not the fear of crime that bothers us but actual crime. The yobs rampage through our gardens and allotments, smashing fences, and ripping out flowers and vegetables and scattering them all over the place.

"They ride motorbikes across our gardens, break into sheds, and throw eggs at windows. It goes on day after day, night after night. Many people are afraid to go out after dark.

"If we say anything then we just get abuse. And they give us a warden who knocks off at 10 o'clock - and that when she's working the late shift. Don't we have the right to live in peace?"
Apparently not. Those behaviors would be actual crimes. Things outside the job scope of Mrs. Lovatt. The yobs have more rights than you do. And they know it.
The warden "is trying hard", Mr Lee adds. "But we want real policemen who can stop the yobs ruining our lives."
Unfortunately, it isn't the police (even the lack thereof) that is the real problem. If you want a better idea, read an English policeman's blog. The major problem is in the courts.
Around the corner, 78-year-old Louisa Gray answers the door nervously. Persuaded that we are not about to rob her, she speaks slowly: "I don't think a warden is the answer. I called her last week about fireworks being thrown at the house and she said that she was on leave until November 1 - and it was November 1 when I rang her.

"I've lost count of how many times they have smashed my greenhouse. They use bits of wood, signs they tear down, pellet guns, anything they can get their hands on. It's terrible round here now. I would move out tomorrow if I could."

Elsewhere in the village, there is little support for wardens. Gill Moffatt, the manager of The Gift Horse gift shop, which has suffered smash-and-grab raids twice in the past seven weeks, says: "Most of the offenders are teenagers who are at school in the day. The trouble starts at night - when the warden isn't around."

Ann Sutherland, the chairman of the Wye business association, says that the warden "gives old people in particular someone to talk to but can't really deal with crime". Her husband Peter is more blunt: "Wardens are a sop to people to avoid providing proper policemen."
Cynic. How dare you insinuate that your government would rather make noises than actually do something useful! Besides, vandalism? Smash-and-grabs? Actual crimes. Outside her job scope.
Heather Hooper, who has a home near Wye and one in London, agrees: "We've had a lot of burglaries around us and nothing ever seems to get done about it. Sometimes I feel safer in London."
Given London's crime problem, that's significant. But talk to Mrs. Lovatt. Perhaps she can help you fear crime less.
At the Tickled Trout pub, Richard Bartley, a resident involved in community work, said wardens picked up vital information that people would not give to a police officer. "They can play an important role in preventing crime and binding the community together," he said.
Can you give an example?

Any example?

(tick tick tick tick....)
Richard Stagg, the landlord, disagreed. "The kids know that she's got no powers and they are laughing at her," he said. "We should send a couple of proper policemen in full-time for two months. That would really sort out the yobs."
Or, how about you do it yourself?

When did Sir Robert Peel's seventh Principle of Modern Policing become completely forgotten:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Every single word in that article said "The job of policing the community is the job of the STATE, not the people living in the community."

You want to know why England has the crime problem it does? That's it, in a nutshell.

Friday, November 19, 2004

I Believe this Would be Difficult to Giftwrap

I'm not going to ask how he found it, but apparently Target is branching out into the "personal services" industry. One of the guys at AR15.com shares this gift idea for Christmas.

You cannot imagine how glad I am that there is "No Picture Available."
I Understand There Are Some Good Deals Near the Airforce Base...

The range I'm an officer of recently received a complaint letter from a nearby resident. Bear in mind that the Tucson Rifle Club , established in 1896, has been at its present location since 1965. Here's the letter, edited to remove the name and other identifying information, but spelling and grammatical errors are verbatim:
This isn't a safety issue, but it is a Bill of Rights Issue concerning my "persute of life, liberty, and happiness". Every morning the first thing I do is, go outside in my yard to pray. My church is my yard, but I've become tired, over the years, of my prayers having the sound of gunfire accompanying me. Somehow, praying for peace while listening to gunshots just isn't compatible, and for 10 yrs. I've listened 7 days a week, 363 days a year, from 7:00am to 5pm, and I very tired of having peace and quiet only 2 days a year. My husband is also fed up with having to fall asleep with a pillow over his head to block out the gunfire every morning when he gets home from work.

How I'd like to resolve this annoyance is to close the club 2 days a week, one of them being Sunday, and to shorten the number of hours you're open from 10 hours a day to 7 hours a day by opening 3 hours later each day. Also, there might be funding available for construction of sound reduction barriers that you could apply for. Another possibility might be to include representation from (the nearby neighborhood) on the board of directors.

We're neighbors, and all good neighbors talk problems out in a friendly environment comming to a resolution of the problem that leaves everyone happy. That's how we do things in out neighborhood. Won't you be good neighbors?
Um, no.

You moved to your neighborhood ten years ago. The range was already there, and you knew about it. The range has a membership of about a thousand families, and we're "persuing" our rights to life, liberty, happiness and arms. Many of us can only get to the range on weekends, so closing on Sundays is right out. Most of us want to do our shooting as early as possible, which under Game and Fish regulation is 7:00 AM. That's before the wind kicks up and before it starts getting really hot in the summer, so no, we won't be restricting hours either.

And for many of us, the range is our church.

Want a neighborhood occupant on the board? Join the club, meet the minimum requirements, and get elected.

Every one of your suggestions requires us to acquiesce to your desires, while requiring nothing of you that you haven't already yielded for ten years. That's not compromise, that's dictation of terms. Hardly a "resolution that leaves everyone happy."

Here's an idea: MOVE. You can find a place that's quieter, and you can leave us the hell alone! That would make everybody happy! Pima County recently greatly expanded the Davis-Monthan Airforce Base noise impact zone. Perhaps you could find a nice little house there and then tell the U.S. Government that you'd like them to curtail their operating hours?
Condi for President!

This meme has been making the rounds for quite a while - Cheney steps down as VP "for health reasons" and Bush nominates Condoleeza Rice for the position, which makes her the heir-apparent and sets her up to run in 2008 against the Hildebeast. I think Kevin Drum is worried.

I'm all for it. Here's just one more reason. Dave Kopel reminds us that Ms. Rice is an enthusiastic supporter of the right to arms:
Condoleeza Rice has described herself as "a Second Amendment absolutist." An article in the Montgomery Advertiser explains why. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, where her father, a Presbyterian minister, was a strong advocate of civil rights:
Rice has said memories of Birmingham's racial turmoil shaped some of her core values.

During the bombings of the summer of 1963, her father and other neighborhood men guarded the streets at night to keep white vigilantes at bay. Rice said her staunch defense of gun rights comes from those days. She has argued that if the guns her father and neighbors carried had been registered, they could have been confiscated by the authorities, leaving the black community defenseless.
And probably would have been. Once you understand that the State is not responsible for your defense - in fact, may be inimical towards you, you better grasp the wisdom of the Founders who wanted to ensure that The People remained armed. Nothing teaches like experience.

Run, Condi! Run!

UPDATE: It seems that the inestimable Eric S. Raymond has considered the meme, too.
So Condi Rice is going to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. I have to think this means she's being groomed for the Republican ticket in 2008.

Well, I hope so anyway. I know very little about her, but I've discovered that I really want to have a ringside seat on the farcical hijinks that will certainly ensue if the Republicans run a black woman for President, or even Veep.

Just so my position is clear, it is quite unlikely I'd vote for her. As in, not unless the Libertarian candidate is a werewolf or something. It's just that the thought of Democratic strategists having shit fits over the hemhorraging black vote greatly amuses me. The panic and confusion that would reign on the New York Times editorial page as their political-correctness bias clashes (for once) with their anti-Republican bias would be good for many guffaws. I might actually listen to NPR just to hear them choking. In general, just watching the machinery of smug left-wing duckspeak seize up and damage itself on Condi's blackness would be delicious.

Watching Republican racist/nativist types hold their gorges down for the sake of party unity would be entertaining too, but probably much less so as that type seems rather rare these days. In lieu of that, I'd just have to content myself with the screams of insenate rage that would issue from the neo-Nazis at Stormfront. Why, they might be almost as angry as the "Bush=Hitler" crew over at Democratic Underground. With any luck we might actually get to watch a few of the vicious morons on both sites die of thundering apoplexy.

Truly, what's not to like?
There's more. Read it all.

The difference between Eric and me? I'd vote for her. Happily.